USDA Targets Food Deserts in Funding for Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants
By Agri-Pulse Staff
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WASHINGTON, June 3, 2011 - Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced approximately $10 million in funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to help increase availability of local agricultural products in communities throughout the country.
"These grants will put resources into rural and urban economies to create and support direct marketing opportunities for farmers" said Merrigan. "Consumer and farmer enthusiasm for direct marketing has never been greater. This year we will place emphasis on food deserts because America's low income and underserved communities need greater access to healthy, fresh food."
In fiscal year 2011, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will competitively award grants to projects that develop producer-to-consumer market outlets, including but not limited to farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and road-side stands. Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts. AMS will continue to target 10 percent of grant funding toward new electronic benefits transfer projects at farmers markets.
USDA, in coordination with the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services, seeks to eliminate food deserts in the U.S. by increasing access to fresh, healthy and affordable food choices for all Americans, while expanding market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. Through a suite of funding options, the federal partners are targeting food deserts, or areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods in urban, rural and tribal neighborhoods. Earlier this year, USDA's Economic Research Service released a Food Desert Locator tool online. The Food Desert Locator is an Internet-based mapping tool that pinpoints the location of food deserts around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. To use the Locator, visit www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert.
Because of changes to the program in fiscal 2011, applicants should visit the FMPP website for full details about food deserts and assistance in applying. The "FMPP Pre-Application Guide" also helps applicants assess their readiness for implementing a federally-funded grant project, and the "How to Apply for an FMPP Grant" tutorial will guide them through completion of the application. These and other tools can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP.
Authorized by the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 and amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the Farm Bill), FMPP is in its sixth year of funding direct markets that benefit local and regional economies.
Since 1994, USDA has counted the number of operational U.S. farmers markets. During that time, the number of farmers markets listed in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory has skyrocketed from 1,755 to 6,132. The directory captures information about where and when farmers markets operate, if they participate in federal nutrition benefit programs, and detailed information about their seasonality and location.
Information on how to apply for a FMPP grant was published in the June 1, 2011, Federal Register, and posted to http://www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP.
FMPP deadline requirements have changed. This year complete applications must be received - not postmarked - by AMS no later than close of business on July 1, 2011. Applications received after the deadline - and incomplete applications - will not be considered.
For more information, contact in writing: Carmen Humphrey, Program Manager, Farmers Market Promotion Program, AMS, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 4509 - South Building, Washington, DC 20250; call (202) 720-8317; or fax (202) 690-0031.
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